Reader Question - I am losing my soulmate to an arranged marriage. My girlfriend of 1 year is Indian and her family has arranged a marriage for her. She has told me she is going home to go through with her commitment. I am fully ready to marry her, but her family won't hear of it because I'm not Indian. What can I do to not lose my soulmate to a man who's never even met her?
Respecting the free will of the one we love, or anyone for that matter, is one of the hardest things we are called on to do as humans. My heart goes out to you.
If the two of you have been together for a year, chances are you already knew that her culture and family are important to her and play a substantial role in her decision-making. If the two of you have been open with each other, you both knew that a situation like this could arise. I’m curious whether you ever talked about how she might respond in that situation so you could both be prepared.
Regardless, if she is committed to going home and following through, it can only hurt both of you to try to stop it. And realistically, what could you do? Guilt her into staying with you? Is that a good start to a marriage? Sabotage her arrangement in some way? Will that earn her trust and devotion? Both are manipulative and likely to have nasty repercussions.
For your own sake as well as hers, ask yourself the toughest two questions of all:
• Would you be the one she wants to marry if she were fully free and this arranged marriage was not in the picture?
• Is she the one you really want to marry or do you want her because she is just out of reach?
Sometimes, the thing we can’t have becomes the thing we want most. That’s just a quirk of human nature. You are in the midst of a very emotional situation. If at all possible, step outside the situation and try to see her as if the circumstances were different.
If she believes strongly that following through is the decision she must make for her own peace of mind, whether or not her heart is on board, you now have a choice as to how things will conclude between you. Your breakup as a romantic pair can be cordial, supportive, and loving or it can be angry, bitter, and painful. It can be the end, or it can be the beginning of something new – perhaps a new kind of friendship between the two of you even if you lose contract with each other. You can be fond and supportive from afar if necessary. The possibilities are endless.
You also get to help choose the memories each of you will carry forward from your time together. Will it be fondness for the good times or bitterness over the breakup?
She is in a very difficult position. Think how she must feel knowing she will soon be married to someone she has never met. Is she feeling fear? Curiosity? Powerlessness? A deep connection to ancestral traditions? All of the above? The more you can support her while being open and honest about your own feelings, the better your relationship will be no matter where you go, together or separately, from here.
Have you ever had to stand up to your family on an issue that runs so deep it is practically in the DNA? Truth is, bucking the system is not for everyone and lack of courage isn’t always the culprit. Standing up to your family, particularly in the face of very strong personal and cultural traditions, is always hard. It can be a hallmark of adulthood. On the other hand, making up her own mind and following what she believes is best for her, even if it isn’t what you want, is also a hallmark of adulthood.
What you have here is an opportunity to learn the truth of Unconditional Love and Ultimate Forgiveness. Unconditional Love doesn’t mean you like everything about the other person or their choices. It simply means you accept that they are who they are, warts, thorns, and all. It means you accept that their free will has carried them into a place where you could end up as collateral damage or finally set free. And you get to choose. And you can also choose to forgive. Ultimate Forgiveness means you fall in love with them for playing such an intimate role in your own story even if it hurt like crazy when it was happening.
How you behave is going to show her what you are really made of. Tell her the truth. Tell her how you feel. And then lovingly allow her to make up her own mind. There is little likelihood you will keep everyone happy, but if you tell the truth and treat her with kindness, you will at least maintain your self-respect. And you won’t burden either of you with the memories of ugly breakup scenes.
And in so doing, you will be set free, with or without her.